Northern California Socially Distant Fall Outings with Kids
Fall is around the corner and, in the absence of the traditional festivities, myself along with a few fellow Northern California bloggers have assembled a list of ideas for you and your family.
1. Sarah from Sonoma Family Adventures recommends Apple Picking (Sonoma County, CA)
There is something that satisfies the soul about picking a harvest. In the spring we take our family to u-pick cherries, in summer we forage for blackberries while hiking, and in the fall we pick apples in Sonoma County.
We just went on our annual apple picking adventure and despite the COVID-19 situation, it was still great! Sonoma County has so much to offer that after an hour of apple picking you can spend the rest of the day enjoying the area.
There are several options for your apple picking adventures and this is one of our favorites. Close to the town of Occidental is Apple-A-Day. It’s a popular and beloved apple farm with a cider blend that is legendary. You can book a one-hour time slot for $10 (which is credited towards your on-site purchase) through this booking site.
After apple picking you can continue to enjoy Sonoma County apples at the Horse & Plow tasting barn. Horse & Plow specializes in hard cider and they also make wine. They have a spacious outdoor area for sipping your cider and a lovely garden that you and your kids will enjoy exploring while you are there. An appointment is required (book here).
Before you head home, you can treat yourself to dinner. If you want a fancy patio dining experience you can go to Gravenstein Grill which is kid friendly, even with its white table cloths. Reservations are required. For a casual dinner you can get takeout from Mary’s Pizza then have a picnic at nearby Ragle Ranch Park.
For a more complete list of Apple farms and more variations of apple picking adventures in Sonoma County take a look at Sarah’s recent blog post.
2. Kristy from JJ & The Bug recommends Orchard Day at Filoli (Woodside, CA)
Though the annual Autumn Festival had to be cancelled this year, Filoli is hosting family-friendly Orchard Days every Saturday and Sunday from October 3 – November 1. Visitors will be granted special access to the gentlemen’s orchard where over 650 heritage fruit trees produce apples, pears, persimmons, and more. Staff will be on hand to share stories and fun facts about the orchard, and there will be plenty of photo opps at fall-inspired photo vignettes created by Filoli’s expert horticulture department. Children will be excited to run through the mini-hay maze and to snack on tasty fall treats, including donuts, caramel apples, pumpkin bread and hand pies.
Kristy and her family have visited Filoli over the past few months and has felt safe with their Covid precautions. Masks are required and visitors are directed on a one-way route through the outdoor areas. Visitor numbers are limited to avoid crowding, so make sure to purchase your Orchard Day tickets in advance!
Admission is $25 per adult, $22 for seniors (65 years and up), and $15 for children between the ages of 5 and 17. There is a reduced rate of $20 for students, teachers, and members of the military. Children under 5 are free.
Filoli also has Howl at the Moon on October 31st from 5-7pm if you’re looking for an alternate to trick or treating. Masks are required.
3. Bay Area Autism Mom recommends Gabriel Farms (Sebastopol, CA) & Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch (San Francisco, CA)
Looking to do some fruit picking but want to avoid the crowds? You can book a fruit picking appointment at Gabriel Farms in Sebastopol to ensure you can maintain plenty of social distancing. For $40, you can buy a season pass (also gets you a box of pears!) and that also gives you the ability to book an appointment. A great way to support community farming, get outside and bring some tasty fruit home.
In you’re visiting the San Francisco Zoo (reservations required, more info here), consider swinging by Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch which is just around the corner and has strict protocols in place to ensure the safety of patrons. Free admission, open starting September 24.
4. And my favorite Fall spot, Spina Farms (San Jose, CA)
A San Jose-favorite for years, Spina Farms is located conveniently off Highway 101 on the way down to Morgan Hill. With so many pumpkins to choose from, activities for the kids and a farm stand selling delicious items like Gizdich Pies, you can have a fun day without venturing too far.
It will be open daily at 9am beginning October 1 and they will be requiring face masks and requiring guests to social distance. Admission is free but parking is $10 on weekends.
If you’re able, I highly recommend a morning visit to beat the crowds and the heat. I am guessing things may differ this year with kids being out of school and another local patch closing down, so definitely plan accordingly.
Do you have other Northern California Fall activities you recommend for families? Drop them in the comments!